Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On Locks, Pick Pockets, and Super Powers

I'm expecting to have pink eye just about any time now, and praying that I somehow manage to avoid it the way I somehow avoided the plague that is Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease that swept through our house.

I thought I might stand a chance at avoiding the miserableness that is conjunctivitis until a certain child, who may remain unnamed, was cuddling with me after her doctor's appointment and reached up rubbed her eye and then, with the same hand, reached over and touched my eye (before I even had a chance to lift my hand to redirect her or shout out a panicked "no!"). 

The seventy-five times I'd washed my hands since breakfast, in scalding hot water for longer than it took me to hum the Happy Birthday song, suddenly seemed rather pointless.

Kind of like 98% of the locks we've purchased in the last four years. 

Yesterday morning while I was getting ready I realized that the key to the downstairs outer doors was sitting on my bookshelf. 

You see, after Maggie defeated every type of lock on one wall of the lock aisle in Home Depot, we finally broke down and opted for double cylinder locks to keep our little eloper from venturing into the outside world on her own. 

The man who sold me the locks was pretty sure I didn't know what I was buying when I picked them up.  I knew that he wanted to save me (or more likely Paul) from a return trip to the store when I realized that the lock needed a key to open either side.  I reassured him that that was actually exactly what I wanted, but I think he still expected to see me back there later that day, getting normal locks that only require a key to get into the house instead of out. 

I'd been against double cylinder locks for a long time, because I honestly hated the idea of them.  But the alarms on the doors only gave me partial peace of mind, and once Maggie mastered all three of the locks on the front door I knew it was time to look into something else. 

Now, however, I love those double cylinder locks almost as much as I love the six foot security fence in the backyard.  I now know that I won't hear the alarm sound while I'm in another room changing a diaper.  So I carefully keep the key with me at all times and this new system has worked remarkably well. 

Until yesterday when I put the key in pocket and then heard Lily barking to come inside. 

I ran downstairs and put my hand back in my pocket.  The key was gone.  I backtracked.  Was it on the bookshelf that I remembered taking it off of?  No.  Had it fallen onto the bed?  No again.  Was it in the bathroom?  On the other bookshelf?  In the hamper?  On the floor? 

No, no, no, and no. 

As I searched Maggie drifted along after me, her little pink half pony tail bobbing happily as she walked. 

Finally I gave up and found a back up key and let the dog in. 

Five minutes later I heard Sadie saying "no, no, no" from downstairs.  Twenty seconds after that she was racing upstairs with my keys in hand to inform me that Maggie had them and was making a break for the outside world. 

Apparently pick pocket has been added to her (impressive) repertoire of skills. 

Maggie's super power is easily defeating every security measure I put in place.

But she wasn't done yet (for the week I mean... I'm not naïve enough to believe she's anywhere near to giving up her security system defeating skills in general...). 

This morning we were driving into town.  I'd loaded Tessie and James in the back and then snapped her into her seat with the new seat belt lock that one of her therapists suggested.  I noticed yesterday that she had cheerfully helped me hold the lock in place while I snapped the buckle closed, something that I'd found rather odd. 

Maggie doesn't usually like me to close locks.  Unless she knows that she can open them.

After months of practicing she sits very well in her booster, but suddenly, after a successful initial time period in the "big girl seat" she began unbuckling it when I stopped for more than 5 seconds, or any time Tessie cried.  The buckle lock was the perfect solution. 

The lock is plastic and rectangular with a series of slots that locks on over where the seat belt fastens, making it impossible to push the red button down without using a tool. 

It worked for a solid forty eight hours, but I noticed that Maggie was carefully watching me as I used the popsicle stick that came with the lock, to pop it open when it was time to get out of the car. 

As we reached Paul's office and I put the car into park I heard the buckle pop open.  I turned and saw Maggie holding her slap bracelet in her hand, looking entirely innocent as she took Paul's hand. 

"Did she just use that slap bracelet to open the buckle?"  I asked, wondering if I'd imagined locking the thing in place.  Had I been too distracted by the babies and forgotten to secure it in the first place?

I carefully made sure to secure the lock on the way home.  This time her bracelet was sitting on the front seat next to me, where it couldn't be used to open the lock.

I didn't count on her smuggling a back-up-spoon on her person, however. 

She waited until I'd parked the car in the driveway to demonstrate her new found skill.  As I lifted Tessie from her car seat I heard the buckle pop again as she used the spoon to press down the red button between the slots. 

At least she waited until we got home. 

And can I say that as she gets older I hope she uses her powers for good and not evil?  Because if six year old Maggie can break every lock at every hardware store I don't even want to think about what ten, or twelve, or twenty year old Maggie is going to be able to do. 

She is amazing.  And as annoying (and sometimes scary) as it can be trying to find a lock that she can't get through, I can't help but be a tiny bit proud of how good she is at figuring things out.  Although I may not feel that way if she graduates to actually being able to pick that double cylinder lock without a key.


  1. Lanyard,you need a lanyard so you can wear the keys around your neck. Seriously, my car keys are in one and it is the only way I keep from losing them, locking myself out of the car, or struggling to find them in my purse. If they are around your neck you'll notice if she tries to grab them.

    1. I have one but it kept falling out of my shirt and hitting Tessie in the face when I leaned over. I think it's a tiny bit too short. I need to find a longer one!

  2. She has a real talent with this lock picking thing! I wonder if God has some really cool work planned for her in the future that would put this skill to use!? In the meantime, good luck keeping her where she needs to be so that she is safe!

    1. I keep telling myself there has to be a reason for this super skill...

  3. I realize at this point there's probably nothing she can't do/you haven't thought of but what about one of those slide locks they have in hotel rooms?

    1. Oh yeah, she's totally got those down. For a while there was a kind of shutter lock that she hadn't figured out... and she was so proud of herself when she finally got it.

      She also snapped one of the gold lock and chain locks in two...

  4. Seriously, super power is right!! I'd be impressed if it wasn't life or death safety. (Maybe I will still be a little impressed and just pray for her safety.)

    1. I can't help but always be a teeny tiny bit impressed too...

  5. For the house: Ever see those realtor key lock boxes? They are small boxes with a keypad that hold a key. Realtors put them on the outside doors of houses to hold the key so they don't have to carry a bunch of keys with them when showing houses. Here's what they look like:

    This would help by keeping a key at the door, so she doesn't pick pocket you anymore. Or at least so you don't have to run looking for keys to get in and out. And you probably should have one spare key on a string around your neck, just so she can't pick it up when you set it down from in your pocket.

    For the car: What about figuring out a way to put the buckle for the seatbelt behind the seat where she can't reach it, but where it's easy for you to reach when getting her in or out. I don't know the configuration of your car or how your booster fits, but if could get some kind of seat belt extender and plug that in and tape over the button securely (duct tape wrapped around about a hundred times), then thread the extender under the seat of the car and behind it, so that the belt plugs in behind where she is sitting, where she can't reach.

    Something like this:

    is long enough to maybe do what I am thinking. You'd want to measure the distance between the buckle and the back to see if it would be long enough, but I bet it is within 26 inches. I don't know if this would hold the safety belt snugly against her, but I think it would.

    Another idea might be to attach a seat belt extender in some way to a tether anchor behind the seat of the car and clip the seat belt into that extender to make it latch behind the seat of the car.

    Or you might find or make (?) a replacement for the seat belt that goes around her like a harness in front and clips behind the seat, where she can't reach. This might not be secure enough in case of an accident, but is just brainstorming other ways to approach restraint. There may be a product already available for just this reason.

    Maybe you won't do any of these, but maybe they will spark some other idea that would be workable for you.

    What kind of makes me smile is that all your attempts at safety seem to be a fun game for her: Mommy and Daddy set up a puzzle, and Maggie solves it!

    God bless. ~ Bonnie

    1. I hadn't thought about those boxes but that is an idea! I can just picture her trying to figure it out but I bet it would slow her down at least for a while. They told me at her last therapy session that she's been trying to sneak and watch them and figure out the pass code for the Ipad that they record data on and that she's almost got it!

  6. I have a little boy that is like that...and a sleepwalker. Nothing like having to call 911 and tell them your 7 year old got out of the house while you were in the tub, but no, he didn't run away he slept walked. Lots of fun.

    1. Oh my goodness! My best friend growing up had a sister who was a sleep walker and I remember the stories being scary!

  7. Cam, they have great puzzle boxes as well as puzzle toys and other mind test games. Perhaps, if you supply her with puzzle toys, you will refocus her energy. There is an entire world of puzzlers, lock breakers and quiz solvers. It may be a way for her to connect with others, too.

    Check out this site

  8. So, back when I was in high school, I helped an autistic boy with therapy-type activities. He was also a runner, and his parents had a special harness they used in the car that he couldn't get out of. It was a lot like this (insanely expensive!) one: . Would that help at all?


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